Perishability

Andy Beckett

  • Scepticism Inc. by Bo Fowler
    Cape, 247 pp, £9.99, April 1998, ISBN 0 224 05124 5

There is a kind of modern writing, mostly found in books by young novelists and books about young artists, that tries not to seem like writing at all. One characteristic of this style is that it leaves things out – similes, imagery and other literary devices aren’t used, physical description is kept to a minimum. But these new writers are not trying to be Hemingway: their sentences do not hint at hard, manly hours of paring down. Instead, the spareness is playful, a mocking of literary craft. Some paragraphs are just one-liners. Their tone is that of TV or the Sun. This is the first paragraph of Blimey!, a recent book about young British artists by Matthew Collings:

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